Saturday, August 31, 2002

Criminal idiocy

A car stops, an armed robber emerges, pulls a gun on a couple standing beside the road, demands money, and is shot by the intended victim. Not unexpected.

The heightened awareness and edginess of citizens in Baton Rouge in the wake of a serial killer make them dangerous targets. Lyman predicted a month ago that a lot of common criminals in the city would get blown away until the killer is caught.

UPDATE: The link is gone. The robber's companions took him to a local hospital where he died. The intended victim was not charged.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Awww, man, lobster and foie gras again!

Let's turn off the air-conditioning and downsize the refrigerator, for people are suffering in South Africa.

To be fair, the current summit in SA is the World Summit for Sustainable Development. The World Summit for Food was held earlier this year in Rome.

Here is a Guardian story on that event. The menu of lobster, foie gras and champagne was much the same.

Why don't they skip those confusing Summit names and call it The Great International Moveable Feast?

Friday, August 23, 2002

Mr. Reynolds at Instapundit will be thrilled to read this story of complaints about security at the port of New Orleans and points upriver.

A top New Orleans shipping industry official blasted the Coast Guard Thursday for scaling back the post-Sept. 11 sea marshal program while boosting reliance on local private security guards with little or no training to guard ships or deal with terrorists.

Channing Hayden, president of the Steamship Association of Louisiana, said private security guards now boarding vessels deemed risky by the Coast Guard offer little protection from terrorists determined to enter the country or to stage an attack on a local port.

"Putting security guards on ships to watch a (potential) al-Qaida terrorist is like putting a canary in a coal mine," he said during a luncheon meeting of the Traffic and Transportation Club of Greater New Orleans in Metairie. "Rent-a-cops don't do the job." [...]

Hayden said his complaints are not about money. He said ship operators are willing to pay the government a user fee to cover the cost of guarding suspicious vessels, as long as those guards are trained military personnel capable of responding to a real threat.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I have a question for geology buffs or professionals.

We are gardeners and pay an inordinate amount of attention to weather. At least two periods in the past three years, we have watched storm fronts split right along the Mississippi River, resulting in rain for points east and west and none here. We live about eight blocks from the levee. When rain has deigned to fall, it has fallen more heavily at my in-laws's house, just five more blocks away from the river. It has fallen even more heavily three miles up the highway.

I contend that the Mississippi is a large, fast-moving body of water that has a direct effect on our weather because of temperature or evaporation or something else.

Am I being unsophisticated? Can someone knowledgeable give me a clue? What about a suggestion for a google search?

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Smiley Anders today:

Shirley Fleniken tells of the little boy who was overheard praying:

"Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am."

Monday, August 19, 2002

Monday through Saturday, Smiley Anders writes in the The Advocate of Baton Rouge. His column is a gathering of items from the community including announcements, thanks, and humorous items. It's a must read for me everyday.

Today he includes an item about a father encouraging his daughter to give to their church:

Bob Hayes of Prairieville overheard this in church:

"A father gave his 4-year-old daughter his offering envelope and told her to put it in the plate.

"She asked what it was for, and he told her it was for Jesus.

"After the usher had collected her envelope, she turned to her father and whispered, 'That's not Jesus, that's Sophie's dad!'"

Thursday, August 15, 2002

After wallowing around in the dust under the counter for a day and a half adjusting cables, we are now in possession of a working LAN system in our house that is DSL enabled. Didn't take but one call to tech support.

Now I can read such obscure sites as WarLiberal, TechCentral, WSJ and Yahoo.

Unfortunately, now I have to cope with tremendous feelings of guilt because I am not as good a housekeeper as James Lileks, and I don't have a job or toddler to look after.

The world is a changed place.

My housekeeping abilities are diminished by a short obsessive-compulsive writer in Minnesota. My cooking ability is diminished by watching the chefs on Food TV. My sexuality is diminished by my husband always saying of Rachel Ray (she's the one who can eat well on forty dollars a day) that that girl is "cute as a button".

Dammit, if I was that young again I could eat well on forty dollars a day, too, and it wouldn't be my money.

And yes, you nit-pickers, I know that the conditional is 'were'.

Monday, August 12, 2002

Back in November 2001, that boy on the left, Ken Layne, was bragging about how he would go to the desert and watch the Leonid meteor showers. He never made it to the desert. While he was sitting with his wife in his backyard in the City of Angels, I was propped in my lawn chair in Vidalia, LA, watching the most fantastic display of sky pyrotechnics I had ever seen.

"Pish", I said, having heard all my life of shooting stars and never having seen one. I saw over a hundred that night before I stopped counting.

So, the great show of the Persieds was to display Sunday night. I gathered my seat, and sat with my head tilting back at four o'clock in the morning. I'd had some wine. I was sitting there by myself in the dark, looking up to the sky, observing the stars, and it occurred to me, "We have West Nile in Louisiana. We have a serial killer. Is it smart for me to be sitting out here in the dark while everyone sleeps?" I went inside, checked on Lucy, and went to bed.

My boy Lyman is usually good for a laugh -- and he can cook, too (listen up young men) -- so today he introduced me to Odd Todd.

Best turn down the sound if you're at work.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Mr. Chris Bertram at Junius posts the niftiest article and movie about toolmaking by crows. Go here. The film is fascinating.

Of course, now PETA will be screaming that this poor crow is being forced to work when he should be free to pick over soybean fields.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Forget the stories of the day. This could be a picture of Lucy, our baby girl.

Lucy is just over a year old. She sleeps in a cage that looks like this, though considerably larger.

Sometimes, she plays on the tabletop model of this Parrot Tower. More often you find her on a 4-foot playtree Lyman built from ribbonwood, which is very hard and impervious to strong parrot beaks.

Lucy has many toys similar to these, but she prefers to play with the plastic lid from a bottle of vegetable oil, or her wooden spool with the soda straw stuck through the center. Go figure.

Lucy eats pellets like these. She also eats a 13-bean, brown rice mixture with carrots and sweet potatoes that I make up about once every three months and freeze in snack-size bags, in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables everyday.

When I have a question, I e-mail the woman who weaned her at J-Birds in Mandeville, LA, or I consult Land of Vos.

We are working on Lucy's speech. She can say "Hey, Lucy", "What you doing?", answers the phone, "Harro?", and, of course, "Nite, nite."

Pretty cute girl.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

I'm ticked. I was just watching MSNBC, where they managed to make our governor, Mike Foster, sound like a crazy, gun-toting anarchist.

Mr. Foster has made the mistake of advising single women to arm themselves with guns while we are in the midst of a rash of rape-killings. It's a small rash -- only three -- but I have been questioning my husband about serial-rapist-killers in Louisiana. He is 55-years-old and can remember none.

I am from a non-gun house, probably because my father had five sons within seven years who couldn't be predicted to play nice with each other.

In Louisiana, from my observation of nine years, there is nearly no man who hasn't spent time hunting. Some are stupid, and some are drunk, but most of them know how to keep a firearm. They have daughters.

Mr. Foster is calling on these women, like my two dark-eyed, dark-haired nieces, to buy firearms through legal channels, take their safety courses, watch their doors, and blow the son-of-a-bitch away who won't answer their queries. They call it deterrence.

UPDATE: Lyman says no, keep your gun ready and call 911. If he bursts through the door, then blast him in the chest.

UPDATE: Terry Oglesby at Possumblog refers me to this excellent site for self-defence and gun safety.

Monday, August 05, 2002

How can I be so isolated? I have to read Joanne Jacobs in California to find a reference to this article in the New York Times regarding current sexual trends in the south.

Couples have been enforcing a period of celibacy just prior to their weddings to allow a period of "re-virginization" before the honeymoon.

Far be it from me to quibble about how these couples view their religion or their sex lives, however, I would point out that there is plenty of time to do without sex after getting married, what with jobs and houses and yards and children.

There is a little edge to this article, talking about these pretentious southern women, that reminds me of a Roy Blount, Jr. piece I read in one of those eastern magazines years ago. Mr. Blount was dreading the dinner party conversation that would ensue once New Yorkers had gotten wind of clay-eaters in the south.

Who knows though, he said. Maybe they'll turn it into a trend and create boutique clay eateries in New York.

Maybe they'll do the same in this instance.

Henri Bendel, the fashion designer, was from Lafayette? Who knew?

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Is it my imagination, or does the coding for Blogger look like word processing for the Data General mainframe in 1984?

Friday, August 02, 2002

A half-life ago, before I learned how to change a tire, lay floor or take green tomato stains out of white t-shirts, I was a young woman in a pretty white dress, escorted by an ambitious actor-writer, who joined a group for an evening of theater --Amadeus it was, with Peter Firth (not Tim Curry, blast it)-- and dinner at the Russian Tea Room.

It was a festive evening, with the most horribly patterned polyester jackets given the men in the party who failed to meet dress requirements. There were at least eight of us, and we were seated at a long table. We dined on blini with caviar and tossed back shots of ice-cold vodka served in tiny glasses the waiters settled in bowls of ice.

What a fantastic memory.

I have just been flipping through September's Food & Wine Magazine. On page 35 there is a paragraph extolling the virtues of a new product from California --Hangar One Mandarin Blossom Flavored Vodka:

So St George's next move was to turn wheat and Voigner grapes into a spirit that met the legal definition of vodka, but tasted, not surprisingly, a bit like eau-de-vie, with quiet suggestions of cherries, plums and pears.

No wonder the Russian Tea Room is gone. Where is the damned vodka?

Tony Woodlief at Sand in the Gears stands up for passengers against security at a Witchita airport in this post, and prevails!

I have no fear of flying since September 11, but real dread of standing in line for security checks.

To travel by plane from Vidalia, we must drive as far as Baton Rouge (1-1/2 hours), most often New Orleans (2-1/2 hours), or Jackson, MS (about 2 hours). Let's see, arrive, park and shuttle to the terminal (25? minutes), get ticket (20? minutes)--these are the things I have have already done--wait in security line (1? hour), board, hold on runway (???).

Sorry, out-of-state destinations are off the map this year.

What's on the calendar here?

Looks like a party! What about that Zydeco and Blues Festival in Mamou?

Thursday, August 01, 2002

In all our research about parrots before buying Lucy, we found that parrots bind with humans with the same intensity that dogs do.

Unlike dogs, some parrots have extraordinary ability to mimic, as in this story of a birdkeeper's romantic evening.

We keep language clean in the front room, and romance stays in the back.

If that's too much of a strain, choose the dog as a pet. Your in-laws will like you better for it.